Maximising Your Therapy Sessions: How to Get the Most from Your Psychological Therapy

Maximising Your Therapy Sessions: How to Get the Most from Your Psychological Therapy - Attuned Psychology Adelaide

As a Psychologist, I have had the privilege of working with many different people in supporting them to overcome various challenges.

Over the years, I have come to notice some factors that can influence how quickly people begin to make improvements in therapy.

Nothing brings me greater joy and satisfaction than seeing a client overcome their mental health challenges and them being able to tell me with confidence that they know what they need to do to stay well.

I’ve shared my tips below in the hopes that this helps you too in reaching your therapeutic goals, whether it is with as at Attuned Psychology Adelaide, or with another therapist. 

Set some clear goals related to your mental health

Firstly, not only does this help guide your Psychologist in planning your therapy sessions, it also helps to keep you focussed on why you’re attending each session and provides something clear and tangible to measure your progress on. 

If you feel like there are too many areas that you need support with, your Psychologist can support you to prioritise these and explain the benefits or impact of working on particular areas first, over others.

If you’re still stuck on what to work on, ask yourself what you would prioritise if you had three magical wishes to ease your suffering.

Your wishes may perhaps sound unachievable to you, but this can help your Psychologist to see what is causing your suffering and what type of therapeutic approach would support you.

For instance, “I wish a significant person to me was still alive” may indicate that what may help you is support with processing this grief and coming to terms with this loss. 

Schedule ongoing appointments at regular intervals

In the early stages of therapy, it’s useful to schedule appointments more often, roughly every fortnight for a short period.

This ensures that you can begin to build momentum and often it’s a chance to start to see early improvements, which will spur you on to continue to work on your therapy goals.

By booking future appointments ahead of time, this not only ensures that you can book a time that’s going to work best for you on an ongoing basis, but it also ensures that you will have fewer disruptions or breaks from therapy.

When you attend appointments regularly and consistently, it’s much easier to continue building on what you have learnt about yourself so far. It’s often when there are extended breaks or big gaps between sessions that it’s easier to forget important aspects of previous appointments and it can be harder to pick up from where you left off at the last session.

Consider the time of day that’s going to work for you best, and when there’s likely to be less chance of needing to cancel an appointment. 

Practice makes progress

Aim to leave your appointment with a clear understanding of your learnings from that session or which techniques you should be practising before your next appointment.

A psychology session makes up only 1 hour out of the 336 hours you have in a fortnight, which means that your appointment may not be as impactful as it could be if you’re not setting time aside to reflect on your progress.

If you think you may forget to practice a new skill, set a reminder in your phone, or write it down on a post-it-note and stick it on your bathroom mirror.

The more you practice a new skill, the more likely it is to become more automatic for you, and the easier it starts to become to break old habits. 

Continue with your sessions for longer than you think (even for just one extra appointment) 

It’s common to have early successes with your first couple of Psychology sessions. I often see that people begin to relax a lot more once they experience those early gains (which is great!), but what can also start to happen is that you begin to question whether you still need those upcoming appointments that you so desperately requested on your first visit. 

Often when people stop attending their appointments earlier than planned this can lead to flare ups of symptoms and old patterns returning.

It’s similar to when we’re prescribed antibiotics by our Doctor. They always specify to take the full course of tablets even when your symptoms improve, to prevent a relapse of infection.

By engaging in therapy for just that little bit longer, this can really help to consolidate your progress and to discuss relapse prevention planning or crisis management if required. It’s also an opportunity to speak to your Psychologist about scheduling sessions less often, to see how well you remember to use your skills with fewer reminders from your Psychologist and also so that you have a check-in point if your symptoms or unhelpful patterns return. 

Therapy can be a really powerful process to support your wellbeing, especially when you set it up in the best way possible.

By having clear therapy goals and prioritising your appointments and your ongoing engagement in therapy to work on these, it provides you with a greater chance of staying well for longer periods and reduces the chances of needing to return again in the future. 

Kate Hindson
General Psychologist

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